I get asked this question often. In the beginning, my answer was “No. It’s hard and I don’t enjoy it. But it’s a personal challenge and I just want to run one 5k.” Towards the end of the Couch to 5k (C25K) program, my answer became, “I like having run,” followed by a giggle. (The truth usually is pretty funny.) After finishing the C25K program and a few weeks into the 10K Trainer program, the answer surprisingly became, “Yes! I like running. A lot.”
Running is my “me” time. It’s how I clear my head, organize my priorities and challenge body. It energizes the remainder of my day. The bonus is that it gives me a little wiggle room in my weight maintenance journey. (While I was actively losing weight, walking and running played a large role in helping me meet my goals.)
If you’re wanting to start your own Couch to 5K journey, here’s where to start:
1. Check out the various C25K programs available. There are many online ones that you can print out, as well as many free smartphone apps. (I used C25K Free, by Zen Labs.) The general premiss of a C25K program is to do intervals of walking and running. The walking intervals eventually become shorter and the running intervals become longer, but it happens at a manageable pace. The app queues you at the appropriate time to begin walking or running, and each session is usually between 30 and 40 minutes. You’re even able to listen to your favorite music playlist or app (i.e. Pandora, Spotify, etc.) over the top of the C25K app.
2. Invest in a pair of running shoes that are right for your feet. The best way to do this is to be fitted at a local running store (not a big box sporting goods store). You’ll probably be offered ‘aftermarket’ insoles as an add-on. The advice that my physical therapist gave to me that I’ll pass on to you is to invest in a good pair of running shoes and skip the aftermarket insoles, unless you have a foot condition that necessitates using them. (If in doubt, of course, ask your physician for advice.)
3. Only run three days per week, no more. The C25K programs that I’ve seen are broken down into weeks, with each week having three days of running. You may find the earlier runs to be easy and think that it would be fun to check those off faster. Don’t. Especially when you’re new to running, your body is going to need time to adjust and your muscles are going to need time to heal. If you’re eager to log more miles, try walking on the off-days.
Here’s a picture with two friends and their little ones. One of us dislikes running, but is determined. One of us is enjoying having run. And one of us loves running. (Two are just along for the ride!)
If you’re thinking about walking or running a 5k, you’re in luck! You have just enough time to complete your own C25K program before the many Thanksgiving “turkey trots” that take place around the country. Gobble, gobble!